Professor Paul Wise stands at the intersection between scientific discovery and public policy in order to harmonize the opposing concepts from two different worlds. What is public policy, and how does it merge with scientific discovery? If science is concerned with the truth, public policy is concerned with the relevant truth which can be translated into societal actions. Wise begins with a simple graph depicting health versus time, to illustrate that events early in life can impact those that occur later. Throughout the talk, Wise presents relevant scientific data that challenges this simplistic view of cause and effect, including the relationship between premature births and maternal smoking, and the heritability of obesity.
Wise highlights the difficulty in extrapolating the data from population studies towards creating general health policy guidelines. Three hurdles in translating scientific data into public policy are complexity, scale and amenability to intervention. Wise then takes a careful look at social strategies for improving health, finally urging scientists and healthcare professionals to take an integrated approach when presenting scientific findings to the political arena.